The tour group

The tour group

By Rebekah Quixano Henriques, who tweets HERE

THE GAZA conflict may be over but Israel still dominates the media.

While politicians talk about the peace process and a two-state solution, there is a more everyday concern for parents and youth in our communities – whether to visit Israel in times of trouble.

With youth movements across the country, and from many religious spectrums, running tours, training programmes and other events in the country, I want to share my experiences of being there recently as part of Israel tour 5774, organised by LJY-Netzer – the youth movement of Liberal Judaism.

I was part of a group of around 40 teenagers, all of whom had concerned parents. I had no regrets about going to Israel at a time like this.

Some places were out of bounds – we were not able to go to Tel Aviv – but in some ways this allowed our educational experience to be multiplied in value. Our leaders ran engaging sessions on the conflict and used the events around us to boost our understanding.

There were only a few times during our month in Israel when we were directly faced with sights of the conflict. The most significant occasion was when we were at the Dead Seaand military aircraft flew barely 30 feet above us.

Our hearts froze for a moment. We climbed Masada in time for sunrise, meditated in a canyon, rode on camels, snorkelled in the Red Sea, toured Jerusalem and the Old City, participated in an eco-workshop in Kibbutz Lotan, hiked the Golan Heights and went rafting down the Jordan River.

We did almost everything planned and every day was packed with unmissable experiences. After of the fun-filled days, I loved the free time we had in the evenings and on Shabbat.

Talking and laughing, while lying in hammocks and making new friends, were what made the trip so memorable.

I couldn’t have asked for more. Whatever is happening in Israel, please don’t let that put you off being part of an Israel tour or sending your child on it. I know all those going on LJY-Netzer tour 5775 will have an amazing time, as I did.